Jess Zimmerman

Jess Zimmerman was the editor of Grist List.

Democrats ask for investigation into Keystone XL

Congressional Democrats decided to stop being polite and start being real about the Keystone XL approval process. Twenty representatives had already petitioned Secretary of State Clinton to look into the issue, and now 14 members of Congress are calling for the State Department's inspector general to investigate. Given that at least some of the problem seems to come from inside the State Department, this is a little peculiar — they're asking the IG to look into whether the relationship between State and TransCanada was too close for regulatory comfort. They're also requesting a re-review of the environmental analysis, which has been …

Which green home solutions pay for themselves?

Trick question: They basically all pay for themselves in the long run! But a new infographic from One Block Off the Grid helps you choose home energy improvement projects based on up-front cost and how long they'll take to start paying you back. The quickest payback is a smart thermostat, with a payback time of seven months — but that one will only save you $3,600 over 20 years. By contrast, you could save $60,000 by switching to geothermal power, but it'll cost you $3,000 up front and take 10 years to pay off. 

Here’s a template for your Occupy Wall Street sign

The Occupy Design group on Flickr has a lot of arresting images, including this one about oil company profits and subsidies. If you're not angry already, clicking through this set will probably help with that — and then you can print out one of these designs, paste it on a sign, and go get tear gassed.

Rick Perry’s energy plan: RUIN EVERYTHING

Rick Perry's not even gonna pretend he's interested in alternative energy — not even to wave his hands at ethanol for an ad that's running in Iowa. That's just not who he is, man! He's keeping it real. Ice cream. No, Perry's plan, as described by Perry, goes pretty much like this: Remove environmental regulations that would require him to not completely destroy everything. Rip up every possible part of American land and sea in order to claw out the last shreds of oil and gas. Mock the next Democratic president when he says the smoking wreckage wasn't his fault. …

Rep. Markey blasts GOP for making real laws to solve fake problems

This is the honest-to-god title of the video above as posted to Rep. Ed Markey’s official YouTube account, and also the news release on his website: “Oct. 25, 2011: GOP Farm Dust Bill A Waste of Time Cooked Up in Fantasy-Land.” Guys, he is awesome. Is it weird if he reminds me of Alan Alda? Mainly just the delivery. Rep. Markey is clearly bowled over by the absurdity of Republican attempts to counter imaginary “farm dust” regulations. But rather than go all spluttery, he goes all Snopes.com, pointing to the parable of the email tax to explain how ridiculously Congressional Republicans …

Designers launch high-fashion bicycle labels

Do you wish you could bike more, but you can't bear the thought of going your whole commute without flashing high-end labels? Okay, probably not, but if you were we'd have a solution for you. Kate Spade, Missoni, and Ralph Lauren have all launched designer bikes this year. According to the rules of a New York Times trend piece, three is officially a trend, so we're calling it: Fashion label bikes are the new hot thing. The designers don't have anything to do with the structure of the bikes, of course — those are manufactured by established bike fabricators. But …

Energy-saving LED light bulbs fuel this insane light display

Okay, it's no Dancing Dror, but this is a pretty amazing Halloween light display done primarily with LED bulbs. Switching to LEDs can cut your holiday lighting energy expenditure by 90 percent, according to DOE (though they're just talking about a Christmas tree, not a full-front singing house display), and widespread use of LEDs for everyday illumination could reduce electricity use for lighting by 33 percent. A display like this is still kind of a giant energy hog, but so much less than it would be with incandescents!

Investors representing $20 trillion get behind climate change prevention

It's sort of a no-brainer to realize that we need to invest in clean energy technology and get governments to institute policies that support those investments. Greens have been saying that for ages. But greens, for the most part, do not represent $20 trillion in assets. So when people who do wield that amount of money finally catch on, we should probably take notice. The 2011 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change, issued by the United Nations' Principles for Responsible Investment, is backed by nearly 300 investors who control a combined $20 trillion. And it says that governments need to commit …

Carbon-eating paint could clean air and strengthen buildings

Okay, now this one really sounds fake: Scientists are working on a carbon-eating paint, which would be capable of turning emissions into limestone. In other words, it would let buildings eat carbon and then use that fuel to grow, like a living thing. The secret is synthetic chemicals that behave like microorganisms. Their creator calls them "proto-cells": So, just as iron rusts when it comes into contact with oxygen and water, protocells can produce simple chemical reactions when they come into contact with carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules, turning the CO2 into calcium carbonate, or limestone, which stops the greenhouse gas …

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